Statistical Indicators

RealtyTrac numbers questioned

Posted on Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller’s office is disputing county foreclosure data provided by Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac.
According to RealtyTrac figures, the number of initial foreclosure filings in October rose to 1,958 from 1,175 a month earlier.
However, the Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller’s office sent out a news release stating that there were 1,227 initial foreclosure cases filed in October, down from 1,917 in September, a 35.99 percent decline.
“The decrease coincides with a move by many banks to slow and review their pending foreclosure cases,” Clerk Sharon Bock said in the release.
The difference is the result of the way data is collected.
Clerk foreclosure numbers represent actual numbers from the month of October.
RealtyTrac, on the other hand, collects documents from three stages of the foreclosure process – default notices, auctions and bank repossessions – rather than just the initial foreclosure filing. It bases its monthly counts on the date records are entered into its database rather than the date the records are filed with the court, according to a company statement.
“Both sets of numbers show the same trends over time,” according to a company spokeswoman.
South Florida Real Estate analyst Jack McCabe said that while RealtyTrac, and other similar organizations, do a good job collecting data, “you can’t look at any one of them as the strongest barometer of what is going on.”
He noted that each provides a piece of the overall puzzle.
And, because RealtyTrac’s numbers include all three stages of the process, often homes in the foreclosure process can be counted more than once, skewing the numbers, McCabe said.
RealtyTrac reported that there were a total of 6,851 foreclosure actions in October in Palm Beach County. That figure is down 23.39 percent from September, but up a whopping 104.51 percent from a year ago.
From January through October, the clerk’s office received 17,295 initial foreclosure filings, down from 25,499 for the same period in 2009, a 32 percent decrease.
RealtyTrac shows a total of 17,780 initial filings for the same period down from 23,811 during the same time period in 2009, a 25 percent decrease.
The Palm Beach County clerk’s office also said it saw a higher-than-usual number of cancellations of scheduled foreclosure sales in October, as lenders pulled back after issues arose concerning questionable foreclosure practices.
“The average cancellation rate is roughly 30 percent; in October, there were 1,134 scheduled foreclosure sales cancelled, or 52.5 percent,” according to clerk’s office news release.
In Broward County, RealtyTrac reported a total of 7,342 foreclosure actions, or one out of every 110 homes, in October. That was up 4.64 percent from September, when there were 6,999, and up 7.75 percent from a year ago, when there were 6,797.
Miami-Dade County saw some improvement, with 5,786 total foreclosure actions, or one out of every 169 homes. That was down 12.54 percent from September, when there were 6,681 foreclosure actions, and down 25.26 from a year ago, when there were 7,741.
Nationwide, 332,172 properties went into foreclosure in October, down 4 percent from the previous month, with one in every 389 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing.
“The numbers probably would have been higher except for the fallout from the recent 'robo-signing' controversy – which is the most likely reason for the 9 percent monthly drop in REOs we saw from September to October and which may result in further decreases in November,” RealtyTrac CEO James J. Saccacio said in a statement.
Nevada continued to document the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate in October, with one in every 79 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing during the month – nearly five times the national average.
Florida came in second, with one in every 155 Florida housing units receiving a foreclosure filing during the month, 2.5 times the national average.
Five states, including Florida, accounted for more than 50 percent of the national total.
A total of 56,858 Florida properties received a foreclosure filing in October, which accounted for 17 percent of the national total, according to RealtyTrac.

South Florida Business Journal - by Susan R. Miller

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